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Beauty’s in the eye of beholder

BREAKING STEREOTYPES: Danielle Vujovich, pictured with her daughter Charlie, has been buying dolls of all ethnicities for her children to ensure they have a diverse appreciation of beauty.
BREAKING STEREOTYPES: Danielle Vujovich, pictured with her daughter Charlie, has been buying dolls of all ethnicities for her children to ensure they have a diverse appreciation of beauty. Trinette Stevens

DANIELLE Vujovich's two children don't look like the dolls that dominate Australian toy stores.

So over the past five years, the Zilzie woman has made a conscious effort to make sure both her son and daughter have dolls that represent a range of different ethnicities.

Frustrated by a recent viral online video that portrayed adult family members "jokingly" gifting two visibly upset white children with black dolls, Danielle said reinforcing the idea that "only white is beautiful" in childhood could be incredibly detrimental to a child.

So in the hunt for dolls that break the Western beauty narrative, Danielle is focusing on a much bigger picture.

"So much of their learning at this point is play-based and by providing dolls that represent a variety of cultures and ethnicities I can teach my children to enjoy and accept those who may be different to them," she said.

"My children don't have blonde hair and blue eyes, I want them to appreciate that beauty takes many forms and that the standard to which they may compare themselves to is varied and diverse, rather than exclusive and westernised.

"Sonny and Charlie are descendants of the Byellee people of Gladstone and ensuring they identify with their cultural heritage is very important to me."

Danielle has collected about a dozen ethnically variant dolls so far; a mission that has proven to be frustrating.

The mother-of-two said many of her close friends had asked her for tips on where to find them, with many stores in the region stocked with generic white dolls.

A turning point, she said, was the release of the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, led by African- American character Tiana.

"Usually I find that there is never just a dark-skinned doll brought out, it is a dark version of a white skinned doll; and there is only ever one or two... it is frustrating because it is treated as a bit of a novelty," she said.

"Then there was this major international company bringing out a dark character. Kids went, 'I can get a doll that looks like me'.

"I think in a community that is increasingly multicultural it is a problem... we can be doing so much more on a positive scale."

Topics:  beauty, culture, danielle vujovich, ethn, mother, toys, zilzie




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